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[personal profile] farla
I darted around to check out what other people are saying and was interested to see how everyone but me was WRONG people tended to praise the book for exactly what I was complaining about. I know I read extremely antagonistically, but also people are sheep. People quite happily went with the Effie-is-privileged-and-evil thing, and I wonder how much that has an overlap with the way, when people are criticizing privileged groups, they seem to zero in on women. They're just so wonderfully convenient as a target - everyone knows they get special treatment!

(Of course, if HP analysis taught me anything, it's that a hell of a lot of literary commentary is just people arguing nonsense because somehow there's no wrong answer. I hit this gem, which I can't really examine yet because I don't want spoilers, but even the bit I skimmed was enough to tell it was idiotic.).

The story the book wants to tell is this:

Katniss, our hero, lives in poverty and oppression while the rich hang out being evil and ignoring her suffering and looking down on her. But actually, the poor are good people, and oppression is wrong.

Unfortunately, it's more like the Good People are poor: Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Rue, and even Thresh. The Bad People are wealthy: Effie, the Capital, the Career children. To be poor is to be disadvantaged (Katniss is hungry and thin) but it makes you superior (Katniss is able to handle adversity, while the Career children are a pack of angry dogs and Effie's an idiot who doesn't know what pearls are.) And "wealthy" is defined mostly as those who have something you don't. Oppression is wrong when it hits you, but hate everyone different than you are.

This is not actually a good message. What makes the rich bad are when they're rich at the expense of the poor - fetishizing poverty is just a different flavor of the old rural vs city thing, with the idea somehow living in the country makes you moral. It certainly doesn't suggest the solution is to improve people's lives. And it ignores the actual power. Effie is not in power. The other children are not in power. There are people actually in charge here, and a blanket condemnation based on who happens to have more stuff than you misses that. The people in the capital may or may not be in power, it's unclear if the population at large has any ability to do what they want, or if they're effectively the same as any other district but with more stuff. Envy should not be the core of your message.

And, like most books, it wants to eat its cake and still have it. Katniss is pretty, but she doesn't need makeup or any other actual treatment to look like that. She only needs a padded dress because she's lost a cup size from the games, because somehow she had a perfectly good chest before this. And it's wrong to think badly of people for not knowing how to act according to the upper class' standards, but of course Katniss knows how to and naturally does unless she's deliberately trying to gross someone out. (You know who's truly privileged? The person who can blithely dirty the tablecloth, because they're not the ones who have to wash it.)

Now, certainly the whole noble/villain thing has its issues, but I think a good argument can be made that at least in America, the roles are, as I said, rural/city. You aren't really challenging anything with the farmboy protagonist who opposes the evil city (that has such strange perversions as BOYS WEARING LIPSTICK), especially if you insist your protagonist gets all positive traits associated with the richer class (appearance, behavior, health, education) and is fawned over by the majority of them.

Worse, just as the rhetoric of rural/city ignores that they're both quite modern places, the book is happy to pretend the average person is just Katniss with a bit less evil government, rather than one of the capital people. This more than anything I think removes any good effect you could claim the message has - it's not simply that it's clumsily done, it's done in a way that's more about assuring the reader that of course, this isn't meant to be saying anything bad about them. Of course they aren't one of the better off happily oblivious to the suffering of people outside their limited sphere, and certainly not one of those voyeuristicly enjoying a sanitized version of their suffering for fun. And of course none of the other people around them are to blame either. And that's the exact opposite of a useful message.

I think I've covered the problems with female characters in general. Katniss in particular does a bit better, but not on the level it's deserving of praise.

Katniss is pretty much an honorary man, right down to the part where she's not actually as good as a real man. She performs a male role (not only providing for the family a male job, with both Gale and Katniss having working fathers and useless mothers, but she's explicitly taking on the role of her father in hunting and gathering) because of a female motivation (caring for her sister, the mothering role). She's skilled at it, yet also somehow inferior, and should take more pride in the idea people are fond of her and helping her out than that she was actually able to provide for herself, as if "I'm doing this because I find you so cute and vulnerable, not because I think you're truly qualified" is somehow a compliment.

She does, by virtue of being the main character, manage to be stronger than her love interest, or at least the main one (Gale is providing for a larger family and without the benefit of everyone looking out for him, so he's better than she is). But this is portrayed as completely unnatural - Peeta has to be handled carefully whenever she's better than he is, and the book keeps insisting he's a skilled combatant when that's impossible. In the interview she curls up in his lap because he's the big strong protector. She isn't supposed to be proud of being the stronger person in the relationship, and as soon as she can, she pretends she's weak.

Katniss does not contradict the idea there are male and female roles. Taking on male traits is at the expense of female ones - she has no understanding of emotions, even her own, and she's both scared of and incompetent at healing. (That this is a sharp divide is clear - her mother and sister are both feminine, healers, and even look the same.) Gale, again, provides a counterpoint - he's acting on his interest in her (in the terrible indirect way that characterizes all "romance" in this book) as well as generally more aware of things, so it's not simply that you can only have one or the other, it's that Katniss, by trying to be someone she isn't, ie, male, ends up an incomplete person. She's inferior to an actual man but completely incompetent as a woman.

As usual, there's people praising how the storyline is about her learning to accept emotions, because god knows there is such a lack of literature explaining that strong women are actually broken and need to be fixed so they can accept they secretly do want love and to have a strong boyfriend protect them. Because the only reason a girl would not have a boyfriend is that she's broken. The rest of the explanation is, as usual, that she's strong because she's a decent fighter, and otherwise things that, if she was a male character, no one would need to point out.

So - better than it could be, yes. She is the main character and she does have positive traits. But you know, we're a whole decade into the twenty-first century now, I think I'm allowed to ask for more from feminism.

Especially considering the romance.

God, the romance.

The romance means Peeta has no positive traits for Katniss to like - it's not "he's a kind person, and I like him for being kind to me", because his motivation was that he was already in love with her. In this light his actions seem self-serving, not caring. He doesn't allow her any chance to refuse him, either - he does things for her and it's hard to see it as out of selfless love when he keeps trying to get her to reciprocate. A person who acts like your friend then tells everyone else he loves you rather than being up front is a manipulative person.

Now, the fact that Peeta is a sixteen year old boy mitigates this somewhat, except that Peeta really is a great actor. Unless we're meant to view Peeta as being actually in love with the random crowds just as he's actually in love with her, Peeta doesn't have the excuse of being bad at this. By all appearances he's far more emotionally mature than she is. If he told her he was in love with her directly and she refused to believe it, this would be more excusable, but instead, when she reacted badly he let her keep thinking it was just a ploy rather than being honest and giving her the chance to say no.

Katniss being the stronger/protective side of the relationship should have helped this a bit, except she wasn't. Peeta saves her directly, while to save him she's forced into the role of healer. Her competence then becomes a point of contention between them. The book tries for some forced equality as well, with the two of them alternating decisions or arguing about them, despite the fact they aren't equal - Katniss knows what she's doing and he doesn't.

The rewrite solution here is easy - the romance should have been a fake from the start.

Peeta gave her the bread because he's a decent person. They don't want to kill each other because they're decent people. The romance thing is done because it'll make them stand out a bit and sponsors might give some gifts because they love a story like that. Peeta goes further because he's decided since he can't win, he at least wants Katniss (and by extension his district) to - and that's taken as romantic love because of what he said in the interview and because it's all anyone can ever think about. Katniss, then, continues the act when they join up again because she needs sponsors to save him, while Peeta thinks she really means it. Making this more clearly her choice would really help things. Then by the time Katniss realizes he's not acting, the games are almost over and she's starting to actually feel like she's in love with him, so she doesn't know what to do. And in the arena, Peeta does what she says and knows he's not going to win on his own, instead of ordering her around and insisting he can handle himself.

(Even rewritten, the romance should also be far less of a focus, because really, treating it as more important than the death of twenty-two kids is disgusting.)

Just on a technical level, this book is a pile of crap. The writing itself is terrible and the research is nonexistent - and I know that I use hyperbole a lot, so I want to be clear here, I don't think she did any research at all, on anything. At most, she may have looked up some plants to pick Katniss' oh-so-special name. The things I complain about here all involved the following highly technical investigation:

Read sentence.
Wonder if that was actually true.
Skim through first page of results.

These errors were almost all not plot points. Changing them would not have affected the story. The author was just that lazy.

I'm not going to make any points about this being a published book, because it doesn't matter. If I can do a couple minutes of research now just to check if she's wrong, she could have done the same thing when she was writing it. Anyone with internet access could.

And related to this is the author's viewpoint. There's no homosexuality in this. It's not simply that there are no gay characters, but there's no room for it to exist. In fact, there's no room for non-reproductive sex at all, and relationships that aren't based around sex. I would argue that this, too, is an error. The fact she very obviously doesn't like those things can't change that they exist, and that knowledge of them is no longer thoroughly suppressed. When she's writing a world full of people, it shouldn't be carefully designed around her prejudices.

This is easily the least of the errors, since they're ones of omission, but I think letting something like this pass just because the book did so many other things wrong as well is foolish.

So in sum: they're tolerable books if you read them fast and don't question what they say, though I feel even with that, some of the underlying messages are toxic (ie, the pigs is a factual error, Effie's treatment and the portrayal of the capital are not, as is the regressive treatment of relationships). And the complete lack of effort put in is inexcusable on the author's part.

At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 02:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
This just came up on Reasoning With Vampires. I may never be able to hear that word again without laughing.

I was going to say that SMeyer should at least get some credit for having a heroine who very definitely knows what she wants and makes her own choices regarding her love life, as inexplicable as those desires and as poor as those choices are. Then I remembered she does do the, "Do I or don't I? Well, I guess I sort of owe him, so..." thing, just with the rival instead of the main love interest, so, as always, nul points. If I were inclined to be generous toward her I might argue that it's a teensy tiny baby step in the right direction from the usual formula, but Stephenie Meyer does not exactly inspire generosity in me. Like you said, though, that Katniss goes Beyond The Impossible and manages to be that way toward both love interests is a huge fucking step backward.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
The problem with Twilight is that the heroine's only empowered so she can give that power up. It comes off as the author saying that she knows that somehow, probably because men weren't doing their jobs, girls got the ability to do things, so here's a role model explaining how you should voluntarily go back to how things used to be. It doesn't help that a lot of her decisions either are bad or the narrative says they're bad, so it's treated as a flaw.

It's kind of like this thing that happens in comics where the female characters, drawn by male artists in skintight outfits, are written by male writers to explain they choose to dress like this and complaining is disregarding the right of a woman to dress how she wants.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 02:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
Yeah, I get that, but it still fills me with less visceral hatred than a "love" story with an empowered woman being coerced into giving that power up like we have here.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
...yeah, I have to say that's true. Especially when since this isn't enough of a romance in the first place, and without being focused on, it comes off as the way things just are.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:19 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm a little confused. What do you mean by "empowered so she can give that power up"? Are you referring to Bella becoming a vampire? or are a different specific incident, like when Edward "makes concessions" to her about becoming a vampire only to manipulate her into doing shit while simultaneously moving the goalposts around so that he gets what he wants?

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
I mean her decisions are to ignore herself for controlling boy, and to repeatedly attempt suicide to get attention from him. She ends up married and pregnant right after high school. In fact, she has to marry before she can do anything else, both sex and vampirism.

Bella has agency, but it's usually used by giving it up.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 03:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
Basically all of Twilight is the glorification of abusive relationships. There's almost literally nothing worth taking from it.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
And pedophilia!

Never forget the pedophilia part.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 07:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starling-night.livejournal.com
Oh my god Mark <3

Interestingly enough, he's read The Hunger Games.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 01:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
He also seems to have no issue with Harry Potter, so I have my issues with him. But his reading of Twilight was amazing.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
I read that first, and was really disappointed with his later readings, where it turns out he's not really good at noticing story issues, it's just that it was so obvious in Twilight.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
I felt the same way. I was excited to see someone finally tear into look discerningly into HP, but I was really disappointed and haven't read anything of his since. He seems just another "everyone says it's good/bad so it must be and let me tell you why."

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-14 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
He does seem generally easygoing, and like he'd rather squee with people. Which...fine, but not really interesting to read about.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Yeah, I found that while jumping around. It was pretty much what I expected after seeing some of his Harry Potter reviews. He's really not a very discerning reader and is generally happy to go with what the book wants you to think rather than actually saying.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:14 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
But it's not pedophilia if you *look* like you're jailbait!
It's only immoral if you look old, come on, everyone knows that.

If it was an ugly old balding fat dude that'd be totally sick and wrong, but he's so hot and like a vampire with a sparkly marble cock, so it doesn't count! All those laws about statutory rape are there to keep old people from having gross sex with hot young people, and not to prevent them from taking advantage of the power imbalance/trust relationship and fucking kids up for the rest of their lives.

That's how it works... right? RIGHT?!

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
No, that was the original relationship, which was merely ephebophilia. Then Bella gets pregnant and has a baby and the other boy she turned down imprints in the newborn baby so he's in love and she's his destined mate.

Bella is all :D I won't have trouble finding a babysitter!

That's the best thing about pedophiles, always happy to watch your kids for hours on end. They don't even want to get paid! In fact, sometimes they offer to pay you. Great people.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 08:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh don't be silly, imprinting isn't sexual, and Jacob's not a pedophile. Jacob thinks of that newborn baby as a daughter or niece and is totally not just grooming her to have sex with him later. The fact that he's now completely uninterested in having physical relationships with other people is irrelevant. He's just looking out for his imprint's welfare in the most devoted, loving and not creepy way possible.

He's like Renesmee's cool uncle, the one that tells her about all his adult problems and buys her inappropriately and expensive gifts while poking her with his erection every time she sits on his lap. If everyone had an imprint to look out for them while growing up the world would be a much better place.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
For all the fucked up messages in Twilight, personally I think that's the worst. Most of them are implicit, but the book draws a direct real-life parallel there. If a pedophile claims their attraction to your kid is platonic until they're "old enough", it doesn't mean they have pure true love that makes them willing to wait for their soulmate. This is not something you should tell teenage parents.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 09:14 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh don't be silly, imprinting isn't sexual, and Jacob's not a pedophile. Jacob thinks of that newborn baby as a daughter or niece and is totally not just grooming her to have sex with him later. The fact that he's now completely uninterested in having physical relationships with other people is irrelevant. He's just looking out for his imprint's welfare in the most devoted, loving and not creepy way possible.

He's like Renesmee's cool uncle, the one that tells her about all his adult problems and buys her inappropriately and expensive gifts while poking her with his erection every time she sits on his lap. If everyone had an imprint to look out for them while growing up the world would be a much better place.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 09:16 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Crud. Sorry about the double post. Tabbed browsing + negligence + LJ lying about there being an error = not a good combination.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:37 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
T'be fair, Bella doesn't actually get to make a lot of those choices. She continually gets slapped down by her boyfriend who is definitely LOOKING OUT FOR HER BEST INTERESTS BECAUSE HE LOVES HER - HIS ACTIONS ARE COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED SO SHUT UP and she keeps having to make concessions about the things she does want. Although being able to reach compromises without too much fuss and muss is a sign of a healthy relationship, it's only really applicable in a relationship of equals. Edward clearly has all the power in their relationship, and everything is done under his terms. He has the power to make or not make her a vampire, he withholds sex to get her to do what he wants, he tries to force her to abort their disgusting demon sue baby against her explicit wishes because it's not what he wants (there's pro-life and pro-choice and that is anti-both), and offers her to another guy to use for stud service without even consulting her about it. In my opinion it's pretty clear that although she knows what she wants, she ends up getting most of her choices made for her.

Re: At Least It's Not Twilight

Date: 2011-04-13 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
I'd say part of the reason the choices keep getting made for her does tie back into what she wants, which is a controlling asshole boyfriend, and how she tries to get what she wants, which tends to be through lying and manipulation rather than asserting herself - which in turn implies she doesn't have an actual right to it.

Date: 2011-04-13 03:14 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I gave this to my younger sister for her b-day. She says she's enjoying it ("It's intense") and I guess I'm not too worried about it stunting her moral development because she is pretty sensible and I think she knows better than to take its "message" as gospel. Also I think it's perfectly fine to consume and genuinely enjoy a certain amount of shitty media when you're a kid. Not sure it's as excusable for grown-ass people, as in the example you linked above.

To think I was all hellbent on stealing her copy and powering through it before she picked it up. Ah well, guess I'll go back to reading Homestuck. >:]

Date: 2011-04-13 03:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
I figure 50% of people will finish the book without even noticing anything beyond "the main character shot people and then they broke up", and of those paying more attention, certainly most will shrug off any message.

I think the insidious thing is it's not really presented as a message, but more a thought pattern. The reason I leaped to Effie's defense was that I've seen that so often linked to character bashing in fandom that I started realizing how often we're presented with "and of course she was bad because X" when no one can articulate why X is actually a sign of evil. But the more often it's presented, the more it becomes a reason to immediately hate them. It's amazing how things can affect how you think indirectly. (For a really creepy example, I remember someone saying once that when they read Gone With the Wind as a kid, they spend a bit of time thinking that slavery wasn't all that bad, because of course in the book it isn't.) And while I think the majority of people won't be affected much by this, so many people are reading it (and other books with the same messages) that some of them are going to be absorbing it.

Which is not to say your sister shouldn't have read it or shouldn't be enjoying it. She and most people probably never won't notice anything in one particular book. And there are certainly so many other worse books out there. That said, hopefully she'll have better luck with shitty media and just get the poorly done ones, not the poorly done creepy ones.

Date: 2011-04-13 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spearowchalk.livejournal.com
It's amazing how things can affect how you think indirectly.

Yeah this always scares me the most, just in a general sense. Basically I trust that my sister and some of her friends can wade through this crap and grow up to regard it fondly while cognizant of its flaws. I base this assumption on the fact that I read and loved lots of atrocious crap when I was a kid, as I'm sure we all did, and then grew up to be a basically okay person with my critical thinking skills mostly intact. I think.

But man is it just me or is YA lit like 1000% more creepy now? Seriously fuck Twilight. I used to downplay its influence, but now I can't turn around without tripping over a "sci-fi" romance featuring a weirdly passive female lead. I guess trashy romance novels have always featured that kind of distorted image of a perfect relationship, but it seems like they didn't used to be so aggressively marketed to young girls?

Date: 2011-04-13 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spearowchalk.livejournal.com
meant to be anon but whatever

Date: 2011-04-13 06:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
I have to admit, it's not a genre I've read enough of to really feel qualified to comment on. I read a ton of it when I was younger, but not much since.

That said...I expect it's part of the transition. I mean, female leads used to be rarer, so they weren't around to screw up. Now that they're showing up, it's understandable a lot of people are going to write them terribly, because they're only a bit removed from the original attitudes.

...plus there's this weird reactionary streak running through culture right now - I mean, just look at abstinence-only education. Even assuming a lot of writers tend toward more progressive beliefs, a lot of editors and publishers trend conservative, and can pick the writers they agree with.

Date: 2011-04-13 03:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
Wait, "Dante and The Hunger Games?"


Ohmygod ihateeverything

Date: 2011-04-13 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
The first premise of my argument about the layered meaning of The Hunger Games Trilogy is that Suzanne Collins is a brilliant writer whose novels are simultaneously inspired and deliberately crafted. Many of the objections to the Pearl Plot theory (hereafter just ‘Pearl Plot’) have been that I’m making way too much of a kid’s book and that “there’s no way all that is in there.”

I’ve been through this same bit of denial when I’ve explained the popularity of Harry Potter and Twilight by examining the artistry and meaning of these books by Joanne Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. Much of the denial, sadly, is class bias and misogyny

If you don't like all of these books you are a misogynist, John has spoken (http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/johngranger/).

Well a guy told me I'm a misogynist I guess I'm wrong.

Date: 2011-04-13 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actonthat.livejournal.com
I honestly don't even have a reaction. I typed and deleted a few things in here, and... how is it that every time I think I've seen the stupidest person on the entire face of the planet, the internet shows me that my expectations are not yet low enough.

Also: How much do you have to fucking hate women to be convinced that Twilight is feminist?

Date: 2011-04-13 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
The main character is a girl.

What more could we possibly want? God, we're so demanding. And shrill.

Date: 2011-04-13 05:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ember-reignited.livejournal.com
Well, I mean, look at Glimmer.

She's beautiful, and because of that she's sexually objectified, and therefore too sexual, and therefore bad evil wrong. So she gets stung by a hundred wasps and it's poetic justice, see, because in death she's disfigured and loses her beauty, which was the root source of her sin.

Now doesn't that sound fairly Dante-like?

Date: 2011-04-13 06:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Dante would have written it on purpose, though.

I'm not sure doing it on purpose improves it much, but god does it make it easier to argue about.

Date: 2011-04-13 11:35 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've heard that she did actually do her research on totalitarian regimes, but...apparently decided not to use any of it for some unfathomable reason.

Date: 2011-04-13 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farla.livejournal.com
Is there any actual source for that? Because it sounds like something a hardcore fan would just assume had to be true.

Date: 2011-04-14 12:46 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You could try looking it up. My only source is someone on TV Tropes removing my Did Not Do The Research example saying that she *did* do her research on totalitarian regimes. Which is not a very good source, I know... It is entirely possible they were making it up or something.

Date: 2011-04-21 01:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Have a few minor things:

1) Cinna?

2) Is it misogynist so much as it gender types in general? After all, wouldn't gender-swapped!Hunger Games be worse in regards to feminism on account of Peeta?

Date: 2011-04-21 05:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
1) I raise Cinna with respect to the "everyone in the Capitol is a privileged child" discussion. For the record, there continues to be no explicit sign that Cinna was raised non-Capitol.

2) girl!Peeta strikes me as a remarkable example of "What kind of crappy power is Heart?" which tends to be distinctly attributed to feminine characters. Bread arms aside -- which are hardly ever used -- Peeta's strength is almost always emotional. The protagonist defers to Peeta after the games... for hugs. And I see quite a few tropes that are currently excused on account of Peeta's gender: He's physically incapacitated for the majority of the games. He's hopelessly, supposedly selflessly in love with the protagonist.

Oh, and it means the character who Katniss keeps talking about being presented as sexy is another boy. Really, how often do you see male characters getting sold based on their sexuality (and other male characters acknowledging it without twenty pages of "not that I'm gay" qualifiers)?

I'm trying to figure out who this character is.

Regarding your mention of matriarchy, I ask then how much use of gender typing is acceptable to convey that the world is presently a patriarchy, without suggesting that the author is wading in sexism?

I also suggest that the matter of alternative sexuality is not a particular problem in the Hunger Games, since we have an ample crew of characters who show no overt sexuality at all and could very well be gay unless we, as readers, attach heteronormativity to them. I also believe that it's not a particularly pertinent issue to address as far as this type of narrative is concerned, and it makes about as much sense as to ask it to address incest and global warming. Actually, global warming would probably be more relevant. I believe there is a dystopian novel out there addressing female genital mutilation, bestiality, incest, homosexuality, feminism, oppression, and is a stunning example of biting off too much to chew.

Date: 2012-03-24 06:12 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

Just came across this review after reading the Hunger Games this week and laughing at how ridiculous that book is. I think your review is spot on!

The biggest problem seems to be a massive split between what it tells us and what it shows us. For example, it tells us that Katniss has spent her whole life struggling to get enough food to eat, but the book opens with her and Gale enjoying a large, delicious meal in a forest that's teeming with life. It tells us that district 12 is horribly impoverished, but it shows us that there's enough wealth there to support a candy shop, a toy store, a jewelry maker, and a bakery with fancy cakes. It tells us that Katniss is some ultimate hunter and wilderness survival expert, but it shows us that she doesn't really know anything more about wilderness survival than what a normal American teenager would know. It tells us that she doesn't love Gale or Peeta, but shows us that she obviously does (I'm sure that was written on purpose but it's still annoying). Worst of all, the book cover tells us that she'll have to make tough decisions about survival vs. morality, but it shows us that she doesn't actually have a problem choosing survival. As far as I can tell Katniss is a complete psychopath, but the book doesn't acknowledge that at all.

Date: 2012-03-24 06:21 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, and another one that really bugged me. It tells how she's so scared, how no one from district 12 ever wins, and that she doesn't stand a chance against the Career tributes. But it shows us that:

1) She's spent her whole life training for how to survive in an area EXACTLY like the games arena.
2) She's a crack shot with a bow and arrow, which is really the best possible weapon for this. No one with just a sword or a spear would stand a chance.
3) Her mentor is some sort of strategic mastermind (although again, it never actually shows him doing anything very smart, but it tells us that he is).
4) She's got the best fashion designer ever, who makes her look super beautiful and wow the sponsors, so she should be getting tons of money and helpful items from them.
5) Peeta is apparently a brilliant actor, and utterly devoted to her, so he infiltrates the careers and risks his life just to help her.
6) She has absolutely no moral qualms about killing the other children. A normal person would be slightly more hesitant about that.

Seriously, she's got every possible advantage that I can even think of. If the other kids were smart, all 23 of them would ally together to try and take her out, because that's the only chance they'd have against her. I laughed really hard when Rue showed her the night-vision goggles because it was just getting ridiculous how lopsided her advantage was. She was never in any danger there at all, the only real question was how long it would take for her to finish off everyone else.


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